Leon County, home of the state’s capitol, Tallahassee, attempted to skirt the state’s orders, claiming that its firing of 14 employees was legal.
On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis wrote a tweet suggesting that employees should not be forced into COVID shots.
No one should lose their job because of COVID shots.@HealthyFla fined Leon County more than $3.5 million for violating Florida law after the county fired 14 employees for not complying with the county’s forced vaccination policy.
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) October 12, 2021
According to the state, the county violated the vaccine passports law, which prohibits government or private businesses from demanding proof of vaccination.
At a news conference regarding Leon County’s violation, DeSantis expressed sympathy of the people whose livelihoods have been destroyed by the mandate.
“These are people that, presumably, have been serving throughout this whole time and now all of a sudden they’re basically getting kicked to the curb,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis’s administration commented further in a press release, claiming that the health decisions of individuals ought to be protected.
“It is unacceptable that Leon County violated Florida law, infringed on current and former employees’ medical privacy, and fired loyal public servants because of their personal health decisions,” spokesperson Taryn Fenske wrote. “Governor DeSantis will continue fighting for Floridians’ rights and the Florida Department of Health will continue to enforce the law.”
But leftist county administrator Vincent Long accused DeSantis of having political motives.
“The governor’s position in this instance, unfortunately, appears to be less of a public health strategy and more about political strategy,” he said, repeating talking points issued by national Democrats as part of their effort to discredit Desantis and other red-state governors in advance of the 2022 midterm election.
Democratic state Sen. Loranne Ausley also rebuked DeSantis, pushing the usual, tired COVID line.
“We don’t need the state bullying our communities or private businesses who are simply trying to serve the people and get on the other side of this pandemic,” she complained.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the state is investigating other local governments for possible violations of the ban as well.